He awkwardly placed his hands on her hips. This was the first of many dances to come. But as they stood there, facing each other, they could only think about the dance right before them. Edward grinned handsomely, largely. Regina pulled in a deep breath. Musical notes bounced lively from the four-man band, as they plucked out a lively tune from the front of the picnic shelter. All around them, the night air was cool and damp. It was the kind of spring evening where darkness hung in the air, filled with the secrets of thousands of lives past. Strangely alive, but barely there. The boulders which made up the open walls of the place even seemed cold and dark. They could smell the mossy roof, and the trees which lined the paths, the acorns and the oaks. Despite its enormity, the surroundings closed in.
Edward pitched his head downward, and they began to dance. Both of them uncomfortable, at first, but then a few steps in, and they seemed to know where their next foot would follow. The thin white lights which strung along the ceiling began to blur into circles around them. Their backs were straight and tall, and their hands touched each other lightly. Not a word was spoken between them, only light gazes and gentle nods were exchanged.
The music slowed, and stopped. And so did they. Each one thanked the other, and they retreated to their packs of friends who huddled together on either side of the large picnic structure. The band began to play again, and the night continued on. A country dance in the city park. The men smoked large cigars and drank beers from metal mugs. The women sipped on punch, some of them fondling cigarettes. Other nibbled on chocolate cookies.
They would not share another dance on that night. But one year later, almost to the date, they would marry. The wedding, the feast, the dancing. The joyous occasion. A jamboree of life’s new beginning. Together, in love.
And. In a year’s time, they would have a child. Their first. Their only. But somewhere, in the midst of it all, the secrets began. The unhappiness settled in.
Some days, I write, just to be writing. Today I used a prompt, which made me think about my Mother’s parents. They met at a dance, in Triangle Park, in Dayton, Ohio. At some point in time. That is all that my Mom knew of their meeting. When they were still alive, I wasn’t old enough, or wise enough, to care how they met. I was only concerned with getting 7-Ups in short little glasses, and Strawberry Archway Cookies on my visits. My grandfather was a talker, and my grandmother was silent. Truly silent. I don’t remember her speaking a word.
Even though, I was young, I recognized a sadness between them. It was a fierce melancholy, that had dug in deep between them. Acres of disquiet between them. Some sort of darkness that had existed for so long, and had come from so far away, that they never found that light again. That spark. That thing between them, when they met at that dance.
There are times when things don’t turn out quite as we had planned. Some people try to “prepare” themselves for the worst possible outcomes. I’m not sure that is the way. Others leap mindlessly from place to place, never noticing the hurdles, or the ditches. I am not sure that is the way either.
I imagine my grandparents tried their best. With their lives. Their way.
Which is what most of us do. Our best.
And then, if we are lucky, we learn. Again, and again, and again.
“Indeed there has never been any explanation of the ebb and flow in our veins–of happiness and unhappiness.”
― Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room
“The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”
― Oscar Wilde
“There are two types of visions. Those that will happen no matter what, and those that can be stopped. Now more than ever, I wish I could tell them apart.”
― Emlyn Chand, Farsighted